Thursday, 25 October 2012

Mummy Loses it Again!!!

My daughter had her friend round to play and after she had gone I asked my daughter to tidy up the toys.  It so happened that they had been playing in the guest bedroom, which I was not best pleased about.  As usual, I told her tidy up the mess that she had made.  I normally do not trust my daughter when she tells me that she had done whatever I had asked, be it tidying up, washing her hands or flushing the toilet!!  On this particular occasion I had decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and entrusted her with the task in hand.  I wanted to believe that for once she was able to do something properly and hoped that she would tidy her things away nicely.

Later that evening after bathing my youngest daughter I had a sneak peak to see how she had done.  Most of the mess was gone but she left some of her tiny Zooble things lying around which her younger sister could easily choke on, now that she was at the age where she can crawl to wherever she wants and puts anything into her mouth.

As I proceeded down the stairs I called to my elder daughter to pick up the Zoobles.  As usual she was reluctant to comply and another lecture ensued for a couple of minutes or so about keeping things in their proper places and the safety of her younger sister.

My daughter then proceeded into the guest bedroom to "tidy up".  I was halfway up the staircase and remained there in order to check that she was doing was she was asked.  Very soon afterwards she appeared at the top of the stairs exclaiming with delight that she had tidied her toys away.  I told her that I did believe her and when she asked how I knew that, I told her that it was because the time taken for her to pick up her things and put them away was far too quick.  Plus, I did not see or hear her go into her own room put her things back.  The insolent child then retorted by saying that she did it quick as a flash so that was why I could not see her.

It was obvious that she had ignored my instructions and lied to my face.  I am sick of tired of her constant disobedience and not doing what she had been told to do.  By this time was at my wits' end and in order to prevent my temper from flaring even further I decided to get back downstairs to feed my youngest.

After I had put my younger daughter to bed I proceeded to the guest bedroom to retrieve the toys that had supposedly been tidied away.  I knew that they were still in that room and saw that they had just been shoved underneath the bed next to the bedside table.

I went downstairs to confront my daughter and showed her what I had found.  Because she had blatantly lied to me I angrily told her that I would throw these toys in the bin and that she would never see them again.  And off I stormed into the kitchen, angrily throwing them against the inside of the bin.  I could see that my daughter's face was dropping; she looked so sad and regretful.  She went into the kitchen as I was leaving and I could see that she was going to try and get them back.  I had really lost my temper at that point and  shouted at her that if she dared to take them out of the bin she would live to regret it!  I had made her jump and her hand quickly retracted from the opening of the bin and began to bawl her eyes out at daddy.  For a change he supported me and he explained to her about how wrong it was for lying and that it is not tolerated in our house.

However, I am a softy at heart and knowing how expensive these toys were I was truly reluctant to just throw them away in a fit of rage.  After my daughter had gone to bed and I had calmed down somewhat I went to retrieve the toys from the bin and kept them hidden away until such time that I felt she behaved well enough to earn them back.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Am I the only parent that can't stand their own child?

It's not the first time that I have felt extreme "hatred" towards my own child.  Many a time she has tried my patience to breaking point and she is still only 6 years old.  Heaven knows what she'll be like when she reaches her teenage years - I'm psyching myself up for "completely unbearable".

Why is it that she makes me feel this way; is it simply because she just knows how to annoy me, or is it much deeper than that?  I have analysed my feelings over many years, yes many years.  I am sure that it stems right from her birth, which was not a pleasant one and one which I blamed her for "mutilating" me (I had an episiotomy which rendered me unable to walk properly for several weeks due to the stitches having been done up so tightly).  It was also due to this unpleasant experience which put me right off being a dutiful wife in the bedroom department for well over a year and it was also this experience which put me right off having any further children.  It took me about 3 years to even consider having another child.

Therefore it goes without saying that every little thing that she does puts me in a very foul mood.  I have always experienced mild panic attacks at the mere thought of her waking up in the morning and every time she opens her mouth I begin to feel agitated, even if it the most meaningless question or a request for me to get something for her.  Even the loveliest things she says finds a difficult route to melt the frostiness in my heart.

I have previously written about the trials she has presented me with at mealtimes and, increasingly the way she speaks to me is that of disrespect.  She makes unreasonable demands on having treats which I do not give in to, and which in turn makes me even more angry with her that she thinks she has a given right to have treats, as if it is as normal and regular as eating for survival.  Sure, you can say that she is simply a child, but I know of other children of a similar who know the full value of money and that it cannot be wasted willy-nilly.

I have always said to my husband that we shouldn't spend so much on her for her birthday and Christmas presents.  There is absolutely no way that she could possibly play with everything.  He ignores everything I say and proceeds to purchase practically everything that she might like anyway.  For every birthday or Christmas she receives about 15 lots of presents just from "us" often valuing at least £100 in total.  That is way too much to spend on a child of any age and yet when I express my concerns of this, all he says that just because I had a grim upbringing with very few presents I am being too tight fisted on our "darling" and that she "deserves" to have many more presents than and just one or two.

Every year and every occasion we have the same conversation and every year I get so fed up with talking to a brick wall that I let him pay for everything he decides to buy and let him make a rod for his own back.  I have just about given up and am tired of repeating myself once too often.

When I calm back down again, I reflect further on her behaviour and thank God that at least she is generally a good girl. She doesn't know of any swear words, which some children of her age are pretty confident in using; nor does she run amok terrorising other children at school or our neighbours.  In public she has a shy disposition and at school she is very well behaved.  Often her teacher would praise her work and the effort she puts into her learning.  She is clever and has many friends at school.

Unfortunately it is only at home that she can be extremely trying and sometimes awful to live with.

Perhaps I should be thankful for this "Jekyll and Hyde" child that I've got ...

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Was it such a disastrous holiday?

My husband would argue that the holiday was not too bad, it was just the weather that spoiled it for us.  However, I would say that it was a rubbish holiday and I would rather stay at home next time!!

The caravan was cramped and when you have to stay in there for the majority of the holiday due to the constant rain, even a saint would lose their sanity!!  Still, at least it was reasonably clean, which is a lot more than I can say for the last one we stayed in.

We paid extra to go a day early, which was just as well, because the day after our arrival was the only time worth spending on the beach.  The rest of the holiday was so cold I had to wear two pairs of leggings and four layers of clothes, plus my dressing gown to keep warm!! (The dressing gown I wore whilst in the caravan, not outside if anyone was wondering!).  Also I had not packed enough warm winter clothes, so virtually had to wear the same things for almost a week.

There was nothing worth doing for my baby girl but there were some activities that kept my eldest daughter entertained for a bit, unfortunately it all cost money and so she was very limited on how much she could do.  My husband brought us on holiday fully expecting to spend the vast majority of the time playing on the beach and he was not prepared to fork out extra cash for other means of entertainment.

We managed to do some pottery painting two days in a row because the weather was so awful.  We could only stretch to my daughter painting something for herself, and could not afford for me to paint anything.  I was extremely bored but luckily my daughter allowed me to give her a helping hand.  It is rather amusing to see how many parents were actually there painting a pot for themselves as well as finishing off what their kids have done!

Throughout the holiday I was as miserable as the weather and was very poor company, especially when inside the caravan.  To top it all we forgot my vanity case packed full of my asthma and eczema medications and toiletries.  I was not a happy bunny and we now have to pay the holiday park to post it back to us.

Already I am dreading next year when the holiday discussion crops up again - I do not want to stay in another caravan, I would rather be left at home with my own comforts.  My husband can take the girls away himself if he really wants a holiday, and I can then relax and have some time to do my own things and not have to worry about everyone else - that would just be the best holiday ever! (Chances of that happening would be extremely remote , but I can still dream!)

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Is she sneaky or brainy??

I had another dinner time war with my 6yr old daughter the other day but this time it wasn't over rice but pasta bolognaise, which is usually her favourite.  However, on this occasion she was pushing her food around the plate and was not the slightest bit interested in eating any of it.

Earlier that day, a parcel had arrived in my husband's name and when he came home after work during the meal he announced that the package was actually for our daughter.  With that, I quickly chipped in to say that she could only open it if she ate all of her dinner.  She seemed happy enough to oblige.

I had finished my meal and had finished feeding our baby girl and took her into the living room to play.  I left our 6yr at the dinner table hoping that the package would be enough incentive for her to finish her dinner.

A few minutes later she emerged saying that she had finished everything on her plate.  However, she had a rather sad and sorry face on her and she said to me that she did not want to open her package anymore and that she wanted to leave until the next day.

Suspicions set in and I asked her why that was to which she responded "I just don't want to".  Now that is very unlike her as she often opens everybody's else parcels/gifts quicker than lightening and I attempted to probe deeper to find out what it was that she had done.  Finally, with a teary and shaky voice she said "I accidentally..." and stopped at that, following which, much tears and snivelling ensued.

I questioned her further, trying to think of various things that she may have done, but to everything I suggested she had said no.  Eventually she said that she would only tell her dad, so he gently took her aside into another room and she told him.  I tried to listen from where I was sitting and all I could get was "accidentally put the food in..."  With that I knew exactly what she had done.

My husband brought the sorry little thing back in and she meekly confessed that she had put the rest of her dinner into the food recycling box and pretended that she had eaten all of her dinner.

Well, normally I would have been extremely angry but for some strange reason I was very  clam on this occasion, possibly because she had admitted herself that she had done wrong.  I told her that I was glad that she had chosen to tell the truth and by showing that she was sorry pretty much straight away just about made up for the wrong doing.  Perhaps I should have punished her anyway but in the end we chose to let it go and allow her to open up her parcel.

My husband and I laughed about the incident after she had gone to bed and we couldn't decide whether she was a conniving little devil or that she had shown a certain level of intelligence.  Either way we were glad that she could not keep it from us and knowing that what she did was wrong and then eventually admitting it, made us feel a little better in that she's not a bad enough person to do something wrong and pretend it's all OK.

Hopefully she won't be doing anything like that in the future ....

Monday, 30 April 2012

Sleeping through the night - don't make me laugh!!

My baby girl is now 9mths old and has not slept through the night since the day she was born.  She'd always been a light sleeper; even in hospital overnight when all the other babies on the ward slept through everything that was going on, my little precious would wake at the slightest sound that was made.  Every time the midwife came to check on the mums and babies she would wake, every time someone spoke she would wake and every time a mum came into the ward with her new baby, my little bundle of joy would wake.  I therefore spent all night following her birth walking her around the ward and chatting to the midwives on reception.  Unfortunately, I have never had more than 2hrs sleep at a time since then.

When, I wonder, can I have a good night's sleep?  Not any time soon by the looks of things.

My husband is reluctant to try any kind of controlled crying techniques as he has to get up at the crack of dawn to get to work so he wants a good night's sleep without listening to all the crying.  Therefore, it is down to mummy to go sort the baby out when she cries in the night.

Some nights have been particularly bad, and conscious of what the health visitors have said about not fussing over crying babies, not picking them up or taking them downstairs, I've opted to climb into the cot bed and sleep with my little baby!  It certainly helped to settle her and so far I've only done it twice in two months, usually when she is feeling particularly poorly.

How different my two girls are, the older one always slept well and had her first 5hr stint at around the 5mth stage.  Since then we've left her to cry herself to sleep (which thankfully didn't last long) and she quickly got the message that mummy and daddy aren't going to get her and has always managed to settle herself at night.

Unfortunately by little baby has not granted me such a luxury but I'm still hoping that as she gets older she will be able to sleep better and let me do the same!!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The dreaded school holiday

Now that the Easter school holiday has well and truly begun I am already stressed beyond sanity.  My torment started earlier than most mums because the last day of term was an inset/teacher training day, so when all the other schools were still open, my daughter's was closed for the day.  Luckily on that day she just chilled and had a pyjama day and didn't do a lot.  Then it was the weekend and my husband was at home.  However, he may as well not have been because he was so busy getting on with a lot of his own things that he hardly spent any time with our little girl, who by Sunday was getting so fed up with not being able to spend any time with him that she was falling into one of her stroppy moods.

There are only so many times that a young child can play Monopoly and various other board games before losing interest, and so many times that we can draw, colour in pictures and make things.  The weather is too rubbish to go to the park where all the equipment are soaking wet and the air is so cold. Coupled with a screaming baby that won't sleep day or night and you have a mummy that's turned into a walking zombie!!

I'm all for short school holidays; at least for those who are working, trying to find childcare for such extended periods of time won't be such a monstrous task.  That is what I'm dreading when I return to work after my maternity leave, having to find childcare for both children during the school holidays, especially the 6week summer holiday will leave me at a loss - it will take up more than my monthly salary.  Is it really worth returning to work just for the sake of it?

Anyway, now the Easter Bank Holiday is coming up this weekend, we are all taking a trip to visit my mum and dad, which I am dreading because it means taking everything but the kitchen sink to accommodate our baby girl.  Also, because she doesn't sleep well most of the time, my mother is sure to moan about her own lack of sleep whilst we're there.  She's good at that, moaning and complaining about almost everything. She doesn't make allowances that our baby is still a baby (albeit almost a 9month old one) and that we are always the ones making the effort to visit her, she never comes to stay with us.

Hopefully over the weekend we will also be able to visit my cousin and her family who my daughter always enjoys playing with.  And my husband has taken a couple of days off which are tagged on the end of the Bank Holiday, so hopefully once we're back home, he will be able to spend some time with the eldest. However, I don't hold out much hope because he spends more time getting on with his own jobs than spending time with her or any of us really.

I hope these two weeks go quickly so that we can get back into the school routine and I can be less stressed....

Child of the week

Last Friday I found a sealed letter from school addressed to me.  I knew what it was about because other mothers had the same letter in previous weeks and I also knew that I wasn't supposed to tell my daughter what it was about, it was meant to be a surprise.

As I had thought, the letter stated that my daughter had been chosen to be child of the week and that she would get her certificate during morning worship the following Monday morning.  I was very excited because at every parent's evening the teacher always said that my daughter was such a hard worker, eager to please and is progressing extremely well. I always wondered when she would be child of the week; she must do something exceptional to receive such an award.  And now that she had been chosen, I kept wondering what it is that she had done so well; did she read an entire book without needing any prompts, did she do something really well in her maths class, or was really polite and used her manners, or did she help her little friends in some way when they were upset or struggling with their work.  I couldn't wait to find out and had to stop myself from mentioning it to her.

Morning worship began on the Monday morning and when my daughter was mentioned as child of the week, her teacher commented that she was chosen to get this award because she did so well in her numeracy, especially adding up 2 digit numbers - I didn't even know she could do that.  Her teacher also said that she added the numbers up so quickly that she couldn't believe her eyes.

It was a lovely service and each class had a chosen someone to be child of the week.  Then there were other little certificates to hand out for those children who had earned their next lot of smiley faces for doing good work. Others also got special mentions and stickers for 100% attendance for the school term.   My daughter got mentioned for both these things as well.

Mummy is so proud that my girl is doing so well at school!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Homework project

My daughter is only 6 and has had her first project work to do over a 2 week period.  As part of the numeracy course she has to produce a booklet based on the Mr Men character Mr Noisy. Therefore the work involved is about different kinds of sounds and there would be prizes for some of the best booklets chosen by the teacher.

When I received the notice about this homework I thought that the kids are a bit young to be doing project work like this, surely the teacher can't expect too much from them.  The advice given was to think of as many different types of sounds as possible and group them together, e.g. musical instruments, body sounds, sounds you like/dislike, and put the ideas into a booklet.

My daughter was extremely enthusiastic about this initially, and the first idea that we came up with was "noisy things at home".  With that in mind, we got out the Argos catalogue and my daughter proceeded to search for things that would make a noise, e.g. washing machine, microwave, kettle, toaster, etc. After all that sticking, gluing and subsequent writing she decided that she was bored of it and didn't want to do anymore.  The next couple of days was a battle to get her to do anything further in the production of this "booklet".  At this rate, all she would be handing in would be a single sheet of paper and to me that was clearly not good enough.  She needed to put more effort into it.

Over a further two days I was constantly thinking about the project and the ways in which I could make it more interesting for her.  In the end I came up with the idea of making it a fun activity by creating various puzzles.  The thought crossed my mind that it would be mostly my work and the teacher would definitely be able to tell but at least my daughter would have some input by attempting to solve the puzzles herself, and she would in the end have something more substantial to hand in.

I therefore proceeded to copy and paste various animal pictures from the computer's clip art in one column and type out the animal names and sounds in the next two columns in random order.  The idea was for her to to draw a line from the animal to its name and then link it to the sound that it made.  She found this extremely fun and wanted more.  So over the week I produced various similar puzzles, including a crossword, wordsearch and a spot the difference, the latter taking me a total of about 5hrs to make over 2 days.  I also made sure that she had her own further input by getting her to create mind maps of sounds that she like and disliked.

In the end she really enjoyed doing the project work and it ended up being about 15 pages worth of work and was happy to hand it in.  I also discovered that I had a tremendous time helping to make this booklet and really enjoyed myself - it was fun for me too!!

When my daughter handed in the project I didn't expect her to receive anything for it but as it turns out she did!  Most of the other children came out with standard paper certificates congratulating them on their hard and some of the others had received special laminated and coloured versions.  To my astonishment my daughter came out with one of the laminated ones which congratulated her for the most interactive booklet.  I spoke to the teacher and said that I had not expected my daughter to receive this special certificate because I had done most of the work.  She responded by saying that was irrelevant because the point was that she got involved and we both did it together.  She had clearly shown a keen interest in the subject and could not stop talking about when the kids had to show their work to the class.

My daughter did win a chocolate |Easter bunny as well but when she put it to one side in the classroom, apparently one of the other children smashed it out of spite. The teacher had an inkling who that might have been and she generously gave my daughter another one the next day.  She in turn then shared it with her lovely!!

Next project - the Easter bonnet!!

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Knitting is almost over!!

The deadline for the knitting is almost over and I have made about 60 squares in total and must admit that I will miss it.  Perhaps I ought to take it up as a hobby although I don't want to be knitting garments.  I have enough baby blankets so have no idea what I can knit or who to knit for.  I think toys might be good option.  I have a friend who is extremely good at knitting and has assured me that it is very easy.  She has also promised to come over and show me a few tricks.  My daughter is extremely excited about the prospect of having a toy hand made by mummy.  I hope I don't disappoint!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Knitting for Lent

We have a knitting frenzy on our hands!.  My daughter's school needs to knit as many 12cm x 12cm squares as possible for Lent to be put together to make blankets for African children.  I thought what a great idea, if you can knit!  Fortunately I can knit, but only the very basic stitch (I think they call it a knit stitch) and I can only knit squares or rectangles; I cannot knit a garment to save my life.  So, I thought this challenge wouldn't be too bad.

I had a pair of knitting needles from when I was little and I thought I had brought them with me when I got married.  Since the school's notice came out I have searched high and low for them and could I find them? Not a chance!  I therefore had to go out and buy a pair.  Luckily they were not overly expensive; then I began the challenge....

Well, having spent all that time looking for my non-existent needles, I was a week late in starting and 26years out of practice!  By the end of the weekend I had managed to knit 6 squares and was it worth the effort?  By the end of Sunday evening I had cramp in my left arm and the ends of my fingers hurt so if you call all that pain worth it, then yes it was!  On a weird note, I did find the knitting oddly therapeutic.

My daughter is very pleased with my efforts as she was becoming rather upset that her class had only done 3 squares, whereas some of the other classes were into double figures already.  Now we can catch them up!

So the challenge continues and I have another couple of weeks before the deadline to get more in for the school...

Friday, 2 March 2012

Rice battle with daughter (again)

Well, I made rice again the other day with char sui (Chinese roast pork), which was a dish that my daughter likes, but yet again the debate over rice eating started to heat up.  My daughter asked me what was for dinner so I told her and she said "But I don't like rice", to which I replied "every time you say that I'm going to cook rice the next day".

She immediately responded by saying "I love rice mummy!"  I didn't know whether to laugh or blow my top (since my temperament has become a little unpredictable as of late)

Well, all I said to that was she should be able to eat it all if she loves it, and if she doesn't eat everything on her plate, I'm going to cook rice the next day anyway.  Needless to say she wasn't impressed by that remark and walked off without saying a word!  I think perhaps she was contemplating her next move to get out of eating her meal.

Anyway, dinner time came and as usual she picked at her food, ate her meat and vegetables but left the rice.  Yet again, I attempted to reason with her about the value of food and how lucky she is to even get fed as there are many children in our developed society where children are still so poor their parents cannot afford to feed them properly and that she should be grateful for what she's got.  (Goodness, I'm turning more into my mother every day!)

I remember that I never liked rice much when I was small but I ate it because I had no choice and I didn't want to go to bed hungry.  We also got the lecture about all the poor children in Africa who were starving to death.  But we mostly feared my mother's temper which was much worse than what mine is now (especially when she got the bamboo stick out!); the thought of it terrifies me even now!

That night, after I had eaten, I went upstairs to wash my baby girl when I heard a little voice from downstairs talking to her dad saying that she'd had enough to eat.  I heard dad say that she hadn't eaten the rice.  Just as I was finishing cleaning up my baby I heard the sound of pounding elephant's feet up the stairs and that little voice spoke again;

"Mum, can I have pudding?"
"Because you haven't eaten all your rice"
"But if you don't let me have pudding I won't love you anymore...and even if you say you love me I still won't love you...and I'll cry"

I was so fed up with her and her attitude by now that, without hesitation, I said "Go cry then".

With that, my daughter proceeded into her bedroom, slammed the door shut and like a turn of the taps, the waterworks and howling started.  I heard her muttering something about mummy being horrible in between the sobs but by then I'd had enough and didn't really care.

Five minutes later, she emerged from her room (record quick time by her standards) and went downstairs with a compromise.  She asked her dad if she could have banana instead.  At least it's a healthy option.

Why must we go through this every time I make rice; what is it about rice that she dislikes so much.  I would like to know but she doesn't tell me, all I get is that she just doesn't like it.  She cannot give a reason, if I suggest things as to why she does not like rice she just agrees with everything I say.  Perhaps she is too young still to comprehensively put her feelings and thoughts into context. Whatever the reason, she'd better grow out of it soon because I do not want my baby daughter growing behaving in this ungrateful manner and I will continue to cook rice whether she likes it or not!

School's boring!!

What a trial it has been this morning.

Eldest daughter has been enduring a sore throat for about a week now coupled with a blocked nose.  I took her to the GP last night who says it may have been tonsillitis.  Her tonsils are swollen but not red so looks like it's on the mend.  There is nothing he can give her.

Every morning this week she has been waking up crying and wailing like a banshee complaining that her throat hurts and can't swallow.  This morning was no different except for the fact that she doesn't want to go to school, not because she is feeling poorly, but merely because "it's boring".  That was all I got out of her in between the crying.

Bad mummy has no sympathy and merely gave her a lecture about how she must go to school to learn to read and write in order to grow up to be a useful person in society and to get a job when she grows up.  Without being properly educated she will not be able to do whatever she wanted when she's older.

All I got was "I don't like school" and "I already know how to read and write and count" (she is only 6).
"Yes dear, but do you know how to read like mummy and daddy"

Therefore she must go to school whether she likes it or not.

I cannot put up with all that sniveling she does when she doesn't get her own way, especially that incessant wailing that sounds that it should come from an extraterrestrial creature.  If anything, it makes me even more angry with her when behaves in such a manner; I do not want to know and just simply get on with whatever else needs doing and let her cry it out all on her own.  I have better things to worry about than to sit there and feed her melodramatic performance.

In any event, I was rather pleased with myself for not showing my anger, knowing that it will not solve anything.  Normally I would just rant at her about how ungrateful she is and how annoying her behaviour is.  I do wish I could be more patient but ever since she was born my patience threshold has diminished somewhat to the extent that at times it is non-existent.

I don't know whether it is just her or just being a mum that makes a lot of things intolerable.

In contrast I have much more patience with my baby girl, who is a much more difficult baby than my first was ever was.  Is it the case that being a 2nd time mum I am more relaxed?  I don't know, but more often than not I am much more critical of my 1st.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Roast chicken with rice? Of course it works!!

I love my Chinese food as well as a good English roast dinner.  I also love combining the two, much to my eldest daughter's disgust.  Some people will find it odd but to me it's perfectly normal.

When I was growing up, using a knife and fork to eat off a plate was a real treat compared to the everyday mundane chore of having to use chopsticks and a bowl to eat out of, picking bits from different dishes.  To have everything on one plate was brilliant and much more fun.

Now that I am much older and have my own home I miss having rice every day and when I don't have it I crave it.  Even when we go away to Majorca we always have to seek out a Chinese restaurant and have Chinese food at least once whilst we are there.

I have never made a roast dinner or even attempted to cook a roast chicken until I was married and living my own life.  I don't do it very often and usually it is a bit hit and miss as to how well the chicken and roast potatoes turn out.  I have recently tried making cauliflower cheese which I love to eat, and although it looks a simple dish, and to some people simple to make, it was a mammoth task to undertake, with melting the butter and then adding the flour and then the milk, constantly stirring to ensure it doesn't go lumpy always made my arm ache.  That was all before I'd even carved the chicken, which to a regular English family was always seen traditionally as the husband's task.  However, my loving husband has given up his right to carve claiming that he has never done it before and would only butcher the thing and make a mess, that it was solely left up to me to do on top of all the other jobs I get landed with in the process of making a roast dinner.

Anyway, if we're having roast chicken with guests I would just stick to the English version with roast potatoes and about 5 different types of veg.  If we're having it on our own I would normally put the rice cooker on and have mine with rice (with some potatoes too) and loaded with gravy - delicious.  I would put a smaller portion of rice on my husband's plate and I would give my daughter potatoes as she always complains about having rice.  Sometimes I would even make boiled potatoes as well as roasted ones because I prefer roast whereas she prefers boiled.  And my husband?...well, he eats anything so I don't need to think about him in that respect.

When cooking the rice, I would always tend to make extra too so the leftover chicken, veg ad gravy can all be put into a tub to be taken to work the next day.  Colleagues have always commented on the wonderful variety of meals I brought into work for lunch, which always made them hungry.  They were much better than sandwiches.

Also, with the leftover carcass I would use to make juk, a Chinese rice porridge type thing, otherwise known as congee.  The carcass and an extra chicken leg makes a lovely sweet tasting broth for this.  My daughter use to love it when she was a baby and hopefully my second daughter will too.

Sometimes, when I don't feel like doing a whole chicken I would normally roast chicken legs or drumsticks, since I prefer these to chicken breast anyway.  Occasionally I would use pork shoulder steaks instead of the chicken which works just as well.

Rice, to me, is as versatile as any potato and in my eyes can be used with any meal.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Going into her own room

A few weeks ago my baby girl went into her own room for the first time.  She is 7mths now and her room had been ready for that length of time but was being used as a dumping ground for all sorts of things.  So that weekend my husband cleared out the junk and attempted to move the cot bed out of our main bedroom into her own.

As with all husbands (and men in general), they come with their own little bright sparks of ideas and when mine decided to just slide the cot bed over into the other room he thought he was on to a winner.  Little did he realise how much extra work he had to do to.  The cot bed would not got through the door at whatever angle he tried and finally decided to dismantle part of it.  He took off the panel at one end which also detached the two legs and again attempted to slide it out of the room.  He managed it, but he could not get it across the landing into its new room.  In the end he had to take the other end off before he could get it into the other room and then had to refix everything again.  What seemed like a 10 minute job actually took about an hour.

Everything was finally in place ready for my baby girl to have a good night's sleep.

I was dreading it as I thought that I would be up all night having to go to her everything 10 minutes.  All the while that she was in my room she would wake up about 10 times in the night and I would have to go to her calm her down and put her dummy back in.  Her cot bed was at the foot of my bed so some nights I was dozing with my arms and head hanging over the side into her cot for about 2 hours.  I had stopped giving her night feeds when she was about 5 months old and some nights she would have a good 3 hours solid sleep before waking up at least every hour.

To my surprise, my gorgeous girl did exceptionally well; I needn't have worried at all. She slept soundly to about 5am and moaned only once in the night.  I left her to get on with it and she was quiet within about 5 minutes.  I could not believe my luck.  All night I'd been listening out for her but daren't go into to check for fear of waking her and I needn't have worried at all - what a clever girl!!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Why did my mum never let us speak in English at home

Ever since I was a little girl my mother never let us speak in English at home, insisting that my brother and I only ever speak to her in Cantonese.  Even so, she expected us to be very good with our studies and lay down the law that we should always get A grades in our school reports.  How can she expect such a thing when she can't even help to explain any of our homework for us.

My mother never learnt to speak English, her schooling only terminated when she was about 12 years as her parents could not afford to keep sending her.  I am sure that if she was able to flourish academically then she probably would have been very successful.

Luckily for me and my brother we were good academically and our love for reading helped us a long way when we got to the important stages of our schooling.  We would always go to the library and bring home maximum number of books we were allowed on our cards.

And luckily for my mother I loved all the Chinese television and music that she put on, whereas my brother wasn't all that bothered.  I would always sit with her to watch everything, all the old TVB classics such as the Legend of the Condor Hero, and its sequel firmly remain my favourites.

Growing up having to translate everything in the shops and the post that came through the door became a real chore though.  Even at the tender age of about 10 she expected me to be able to translate a business letter or hospital letter but my Chinese was still limited to the simple everyday conversational terms.  How was I supposed to be able to translate business terminology and medical jargon when even I did not know what they were in English?

Teaching my mum English was a waste of time, either because she was genuinely incapable of learning it or she thought it unnecessary as I was there to interpret everything.

Despite this, I am glad of the way that I was brought up because I continue to love my roots and my language and I have tried to learn to read and write on my own but since going to university and going out to work I have found little time to do this.  Therefore, unfortunately, lot of what I have learnt, I have forgotten because due to it lack of use I cannot remember much of it.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Parents' evening

Last night was Parent's Evening at my daughter's school.  On meeting with her class teacher I was told yet again that she is delightful and a clever child and extremely able.  She has nothing bad to say about her and in class she pays good attention and is always willing to learn.  She is in the top set of everything and is progressing brilliantly.

Why then, does my high achieving daughter does not show me her capabilities at home where I struggle to get her to read even the most simple of books?  Apparently, it may be because she works so hard all day long right up to last minute of the school day, that she is completely drained by the time she gets home.

My daughter's teacher says that her phonics, reading and writing is excellent and she is much better with the numeracy than literacy.  She then goes to say that she is certainly above the national average for her age group and has been doing work with some of the children in the year above.

Either the school has very low standards or I expect too much from her as I am sure that she is able to do a lot more than what I have witnessed.  In any event I know I should be a proud mum but I can't help feeling a little bit skeptical about all the good things that I've been told.

Well, at least she's behaving well and achieving at school.  I just wish she would be just as good at home...

Monday, 6 February 2012

Rice battle with daughter

I wonder if any other Chinese mothers have problems with their children eating rice.  My 6 year old daughter is adamant that she does not like rice even though she was weaned and brought up on it.  I cook rice most days of the week and vary the accompanying dishes each time.  Is it a case of rice overkill or is she just being awkward?  We have had many battles about it and her rice portion is tiny in comparison with what her cousins eat.

It does not help matters that her besotted daddy always tells her to "eat what you can, just try it and if you don't like it, it doesn't matter".  Well, my philosophy is, and the way that I was brought up was, that if you don't like it, tough, you're going to have to eat it anyway.  If it was left up to me I would make her eat every last grain even if she cried.  That goes for anything else that she doesn't like either.  "Eat what you're given and be grateful!"

I don't specifically cater for her tastes, I cook what I want to eat and she has to join in.  If I pandered to her every request, we'd be on frankfurters or mashed potato every night.  I am Chinese and I like my rice and I want her to appreciate the same too.  There are a couple of days in the week when I don't cook rice, some days we have pasta or jacket potato but even then she's dead fussy.  The list of things she doesn't like seems to be endless, yet these are the very things that she used to love as a toddler, such as Chinese mushrooms, regular mushrooms, courgettes, prawns, green beans...

Every night she asks what we're going to eat and when I come to the part where I say "rice" she immediately whines about it.  When I say there's no rice she shouts "hooray!".  It is driving me insane and makes me incredibly angry to the point where I just to lock her up in her room and let her starve!!  Of course I have not and would never do that but she needs to start showing a bit of respect and appreciation for all work I do to keep her tummy filled.

End of rant - for now!!

Friday, 3 February 2012

Anyone want to look after a vomitting baby?

Since coming back from my cousin's house my baby girl has not been very well.  At Monday lunchtime she took one mouthful of her pureed food and decided to throw up.  It went absolutely everywhere and I didn't know what to sort out first - me, the table, the highchair or hair.  After a few seconds of dithering I opted to sort the baby out.  I pulled her out of the highchair and took her upstairs for a bath and a change of clothes, after which I had to leave her in the rocker in the kitchen whilst I cleaned the table and the highchair.

I decided to leave her at home with me.  Usually on Monday nights, my husband would take my elder daughter to her swimming lesson with the baby in tow to watch, whilst I had some time to myself.  That night I gave my baby her bottle early, which she didn't finish and took her up to bed.

Knowing that my other daughter would make a commotion when she came in, I wrote a note on the door for her to be quiet so as not to wake the baby.  Once she arrived at the front door I heard her read out the note and yet she continued to bounce about and talk as loud as she could.  Unfortunately, she was not considerate enough to tone the noise down and got a telling off.

Tuesday was not much better in that the vomiting continued, coupled with diarrhoea now - marvellous, just what I need!!

It is now Friday and she is better now, the vomiting and diarrhoea has stopped now but her appetite hasn't returned.  She only manages about one ice cube sized pureed food.  She likes to eat the pear but not the other vegetables I give her.  Hopefully that will improve soon.

Weekend away

We had a wonderful weekend staying at my cousin's house with her family.  The kids got on really well and we had a wonderful time playing on the Wii.

My husband had his eye test at the opticians but they could not find anything wrong.  The trouble he's been suffering with has continued to bother him and they have written a referral letter to his general practitioner to get it seen to at the hospital.  Hopefully they will get to the bottom of it.

It may have been our last get together with my cousin as she and her family are moving abroad for a few years. We will miss them all very much but I hope that they settle nicely in their new home and surroundings.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Going away

Just before going away my husband tells me that he needs an urgent appointment with an optician to get a problem seen to that's been bothering him for about a week now - that's news to me, he's never mentioned anything previously.

Well, tomorrow we go to visit my cousin for the weekend and he wants an appointment first thing in the morning so he calls me from work to get me to phone around for him.  There I was trying to settle the baby and at the same time phoning around the three opticians we have in the town only to no avail and now I have a screaming baby attached to my hip!

I call him back to let him know that all the opticians in town do not have any appointments for tomorrow at any time whatsoever.

Finally I can get down to feeding my hungry daughter.  Whilst she was happily guzzling down her milk the phone rings again and lo and behold, my darling husband is on at me once more.  I couldn't pick up the phone so he left a message on the answerphone telling me to get an appointment for this afternoon and he'll finish work early.  Now the message is on the answerphone, it keeps beeping telling me that it needs to be listened to - very annoying sound.

Finally, my gorgeous girl has finished her bottle and is happily dozing off when again the phone rings.  I bet it's hubby again!  This time, luckily he doesn't leave a message but my baby has opened her eyes and I'm worried she will not settle back and wake up for good.  She doesn't sleep well at the best of times.  I carry her off upstairs and every now and then she will have a look around to see where she is.  I put her into her cot and go to close the curtains, she is watching me and I hope that she will close her eyes again.  I turn her onto her side (her favourite position), she closes her eyes and I quietly leave the room.

Once again, I telephone all the opticians to double check if any appointments are available for this afternoon and as I previously thought, there are none available.  I call hubby back at work to report back to him and he says he too has already telephoned them because he thought I was out!  Now that was a waste of time for me!!  I suggest maybe we could call the opticians in Watford where we will be tomorrow and he leaves me to it.

I Googled Specsavers in Watford, got their number and thankfully made an appointment for tomorrow afternoon, a few hours after arriving at my cousins house.  The bonus is that the sight test is on offer at the moment at £7.50.  I once again call hubby back to tell him the good news and he is happy with the result and the bargain too! Phew!!!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The trouble with teaching my children Cantonese

Coming from a Cantonese speaking family I hope that one day my children will be able to speak it well enough to converse freely with my parents, their grandparents.  I was brought up speaking Cantonese and never spoke a word of English until I went to school.  I like to think that I am fairly fluent in the language; I know enough of it to be able to get about in Hong Kong and translate for my parents.  I enjoy Chinese television and music but being married to an Englishman it has been difficult trying to provide all the Chinese exposure to my children to the same extent as I have received them when growing up in England.

When my eldest was born I made a conscious effort to speak to her in Cantonese and she did understand what I said but, unfortunately, was reluctant to speak it back to me.  She was however able to understand what I was saying and responded in English.  As she got older her understanding of the language became increasingly limited, especially when she started attending nursery more often (her increased time there being as a result of me having to go back to work full time out of necessity rather than choice).  She cannot understand many of the things I say to her now and she is shy when I ask her to repeat things in Cantonese.  

As the years rolled on I continued to set aside some time to teach her using flash cards that my parents had bought from Hong Kong (the problem with these is that they had Mandarin pinyin, not Cantonese).  Unfortunately, she was showing a distinct lack of interest in learning the language.

I would like her to be around my parents more often but only I can travel to go and visit them, they cannot travel to come and stay with me which means I do not see them as often as I would like.  My mum has no understanding of the English language despite having been in this country for almost 40 years and my dad's competence in this respect seems to be getting worse with age!

Now she doesn't know any of the Cantonese I speak and whenever I visit my parents I have to translate everything for both sides.  She does, however, know how to address my parents and my brother in Cantonese, albeit her pronunciation is a bit off.  I am also happy that she does have a favourite Chinese song.  I make a point of only listening to Chinese music in my car and it has paid some dividends.

Now that my 2nd daughter has come along, I always speak to her in Cantonese and at times my older daughter shows some interest and asks what I am saying.  In time I hope that she will be able to pick up what she has lost and that both my girls will be able to appreciate the Chinese half of their heritage.